Tuesday 31 October 2023

Deepdale Farm - 31st October 2023

 A last try for Meadow Pipits passing through on passage confirmed that numbers have decreased considerably. In a short session, curtailed by rain showers that started earlier than the forecast predicted there were no Meadow Pipit captures, although birds were seen both feeding on the sodden stubble and seeing off a Short-eared Owl that flew east along the sea bank.

Reed Buntings continue to use the uncut portion of the area, with some captured before the rain. A Stonechat was a the first that we've ringed on the marsh fields.

Total: 10

Stonechat - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Reed Bunting - 7

Sunday 29 October 2023

Wreck of European Shag - October 2023

Juvenile Shag ringed and released on 27th at Wells-next-the-sea

The week of the 23rd of October saw some unusual movements and sightings of European Shag. The unusual behaviour may be linked to Storm Babet (weather warnings issued for 18th to 21st October) that led to the most severe and widespread weather impacts of this year so far. 60+ shag were recorded heading south, offshore of Saltfleetby/Theddlethorpe Dunes on Monday 23rd with a further report, from Spurn, of 226 birds headed south. The twitter post by John Hewitt refers to birds "just plonking down anywhere they really shouldn't".

undisclosed car park

Two Shags resting at ponds, Spurn 

Report of a ringed bird in bins at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire by Paul Reynolds.
Ringed in Edinburgh. Flew off unaided.

On the 25th, David Steel posted about the unusual places that storm driven birds may turn up, and posted a brief video from the old lighthouse engine room on the Isle of May.


This bird was successfully released to the sea the following day.

A tweet by R.Stephenson on the 25th referred to a bird found 30 miles inland at Bolton on Swale Gravel Pit.

European Shag, R Stephenson

On the 25th we were monitoring for pipits in the marsh fields at Deepdale Farm, Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk and were sent this interesting image of Shags on the farm topper. They appeared to be looking for something to eat as the tractor worked the field. Their appearance away from the sea seemed to be linked to the dense sea fret we were experiencing at the time.

Deepdale tractor attracts three juveniles

The farm staff saw all three birds fly into a hedge and on our advice, that they may not be able to get airborne, tried to find them later that day and on the day following but there was no trace. 

Our post on Twitter of the shags at the farm attracted a lot of attention, including a request to look out for colour ringed birds. There had already been some other odd reports including one bird that tried to enter a house in Nottingham and another that was in a garden in Lincolnshire.

A report of a dead bird with darvic RAX at Easington Lagoons showed that being forced inland is a risky business, leaving birds extremely vulnerable even when they are able to find a body of water.

RAX, ring on the Isle of May, June 2023 Entangled in wire mesh

Other reports on the 26th included four birds photographed in a park in Sheffield.

Photo by Tony Holme

Dan Martin's image of two of the four birds showed a darvic ring RZW.

The ringed bird had been ringed at the nest on the Isle of May in June.

By the 27th three birds were showing at Hykeham Pits and other reports of single birds from a smattering of locations. We got a call from Estelle at Deepdale Farm to say she had found a Shag walking down the farm road. Continuing in that direction leads to the coast, but it's quite a distance for webbed feet and involves crossing the main coast road. Estelle picked the bird up and called us after getting it safely into a box.

It wasn't long before we arrived there, making another check for the birds seen on Wednesday, before taking it to the quay at Wells-next-the-sea where the tide was coming up.

The bird was keen to return to the water and began feeding and drinking immediately.

Back in a familiar environment

The following day there was a report of 4 Shags in the channel at Brancaster Staithe, only about half a mile from Burnham Deepdale. Perhaps the three tractor travellers plus the one we took to Wells have reunited.

3 of 4, taken by Tom Lowe at Brancaster Staithe

Saturday 28 October 2023

Baconsthorpe Castle Wild Camp - 28th October 2013

Today we hoped to catch mainly thrushes as the site has a wealth of berry bushes ripe for the plucking. There were a lot of Redwings and Blackbirds on arrival, but many departed and the ones that remained to feed tended to stay in the higher trees. We had flocks passing overhead and several groups dropped in when the fog closed in. The total for the day was 39 birds, Redwing leading with 14 and Goldcrest second with 8 new.

A female Blackcap was an unexpected bonus.

Thanks to DMD for assisting. Appropriate licence held for all ringing activities.


Redwing showing particularly warm colouration to median tips

Female Bullfinch aged 3
Total: 35 (4)

Redwing - 14
Blackbird- 3
Wren - 4
Robin - 3 (2)
Dunnock - 1
Blackcap - 1
Goldcrest - 8 (1)
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Bullfinch - 1

Friday 27 October 2023

Deepdale Farm - 27th October 2023

 As the spell of calmer weather continues, we again set nets on the marsh fields at Deepdale, this being our best site for autumn migrant arrivals. Over the morning we ringed a very narrow range of species, Meadow Pipits including a control, Reed Buntings with some clearly newly arrived as fat and muscle scores were both zero.

We also ringed the first Rock Pipit that the group has ringed, being the second new species of the week. We had done our first Skylarks this week too.

Rock Pipit

Control Meadow Pipit AZZ1649 adult showing full complement
 of mature median and greater coverts.

Reed Bunting adult type 2nd tertial

Reed Bunting juvenile type 2nd tertial

We had not quite finished packing up when we got a call from Estelle at the farm office. She had just picked up a Shag. It had been walking down the farm road, heading north towards the sea. It may have been one of the three seen riding around on the topper on Wednesday. A search of the area later on Wednesday and on Thursday had found nothing and as the three had flown into a hedge they were thought to have been able to take flight. This may have been one of them or even have been a fourth bird. 

We kept the bird in a box to rest while the tide came up, then released it at Wells-next-the sea. It was quite fit and immediately began to drink and feed once in the water.

Juvenile Shag

Ringed and ready for release.

The bird was strong and did not need to go to a rescue centre. 

Totals: 38 (1)

Shag - 1
Rock Pipit - 1
Meadow Pipit - 22 (1 control)
Reed Bunting - 14

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Deepdale Farm - 25th October 2023

 Another day with a forecast for low wind (although it was windier than ideal at times) and only a matter of time before the field gets ploughed once dry enough so we took another try for Meadow Pipits. The ground was rather wetter than before leaving shallow pools in places that the pipits had a definite preference for, and added to that there were fewer pipits around but more Skylarks. When the sea fret came in the birds became less active and more difficult to catch. Despite the challenges we managed 48 captures including four Skylark.

Skylark aged 2 since all birds undertake a complete moult in the summer

Meadow Pipit

Thanks to PWL and DKH for joining us.

Totals:  44 (4)

Meadow Pipit - 24
Skylark - 4
Song Thrush - 1
Robin - 1 (1)
Goldcrest - 4 (3)
Goldfinch - 5
Reed Bunting - 5

While it was misty the farmer topping one of the nearby fields had some unusual company. This appears to be part of a wider phenomenon with reports of singles in a Lincs garden and another trying to enter a house in Nottinghamshire, with 4 Shags in a park in Sheffield.

Monday 23 October 2023

Deepdale Farm - 23rd October 2023

 We have been waiting for a day with low enough wind to try the marsh fields for Meadow Pipits, and today finally was the day. It was a little windy when we arrived at 7am but the wind dropped to a pleasant breeze as the morning progressed. We got a 5 net combination up, three nets in an open cornered triangle with two behind in what we term a 'back stop' configuration. Then there was also a double two panel next to an uncut scrubby area and finally a 9m through a hedge, just in case of migrating Goldcrests or thrushes.

The plan worked quite well and by the end of the morning we had processed 77 birds.

Mipit config with walk in trap for good measure

Juvenile Meadow Pipit

Reed Bunting

Goldcrest 3M

Adult Meadow Pipit showing shallow toothed median coverts.

Even if there had been fewer birds, the dawn sky, followed later by Pink-feet departing their roost was a great way to start the day.

Looking east before sunrise

Totals: 73 (4)

Meadow Pipit - 40
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 4
Chiffchaff - 1
Goldcrest - 14 (1)
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (3)
Goldfinch - 3
Reed Bunting - 5

Mannington Hall Open day (ringing Demonstration) - 22nd October 2023


On a beautiful autumn day CL & DKL joined ERB for the bird ringing demonstration at Mannington Hall's autumn open day. Joined by two Iceni trainees and two more trainees from other groups there were plenty of birds for trainees to extract and process, and for visitors to see. Highlights were Redwing, Siskin and Reed Bunting. 


Total - 26 (35)

Mute Swan - 1
Redwing - 2
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 14 (24)
Coal Tit - 1 (2)
Great Tit - 3 (5)
Marsh Tit - 0 (2)
Long-tailed Tit - 0 (1)
Siskin - 1
Reed Bunting - 2

Monday 16 October 2023

Heacham Sewage Works, Anglian Water - 16th October 2023

 Completed our first successful session at the works today, although actually the third visit. First attempt was for hirundines and although conditions looked perfect when we left home it was completely wrong by the time we arrived at Heacham. Second attempt was for gulls but we didn't get any in the nets on that day either.

Today looked perfect with low wind speeds from the east. Thousands of Redwing were passing over during our first couple of hours there. Many dropped into the tall trees for a brief rest before moving on. Of these we managed to catch 16.

Redwing, age 3

We had a three net configuration up trying for pipits. There were very few around and the only one that came in to the audio-lure was captured, so catching would be possible if more birds were about.

Juvenile Meadow Pipit

The Chaffinch and Robins may even have been migrants with just the Blue Tit and Wren definite resident birds.

Adult male Chaffinch

Juvenile Robin

We also recorded two colour ringed Black-headed gulls, belonging to Paul Roper's and Jez Blackburn's projects.

Black-headed Gull 2SKS
Total: 25

Meadow Pipit - 1
Wren - 1
Robin - 4
Blackbird - 1
Redwing - 16
Blue Tit - 1
Chaffinch - 1

Thursday 12 October 2023

Baconsthorpe Castle Wild camp - 12th October 2023

 We had hopes of connecting with winter thrushes, this being such a lovely site, full of berry bearing bushes, surrounded by fields with hedgerows connecting the patchwork of fields to the site, but we caught none. There were a few Goldcrest about and some finches that we haven't been catching there.

4F Bullfinch

Dunnocks were leading species of a of our rather modest catch, including a bird with some form of infection affecting the eyes and beak.

Juvenile Dunnock with infection producing appearance of an ocular ring. Yellow colouration also present at base of lower mandible.

Total: 16(4)

Wren - 2 (1)
Robin - 1 (1)
Dunnock - 4 (1)
Goldcrest - 3 (1)
Chaffinch - 3
Bullfinch -  2
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Resighting in South West France of Ingoldisthorpe Marsh Harrier 49 - 7th October 2023

 A second Ingoldisthorpe summer tagged Marsh Harrier has been seen. After 4S was seen in the Manby, Saltfleetby area of Lincolnshire last month, 49 has been recorded across the Channel in France - Orange wingtag with code 49, October 7, 2023 in the Natural Reserve of Marais d’Orx in the SW France.

Monday 9 October 2023

Deepdale Farm - 8th and 9th October 2023

 Weather looked good for arrivals of migrating birds from Scandinavia so we hoped some birds would drop into Hilly Piece. We arrived at 6:30am to hear Blackbirds and Redwing, but although we saw birds departing up the track and two flocks of some 20 Redwings leave from the coniferous canopy we only got 14 birds, including 3 of the Song Thrush that mostly passed over head with flocks of Fieldfare, Redwing and Finches with a couple of Goldcrest also captured.

Song Thrush, age 3

Three Blackcaps were carrying fat and potentially arrived with the fall, but the fat is more suggestive of a more local movement.

Female Blackcap juvenile

We were packed up by 12 noon, too early for the large numbers of Finches, Goldcrest and more Thrushes that arrived between early afternoon and early evening.

We went off to Burnham Overy dunes for distant views of Great Grey Shrike and Short-eared Owl, missing Yellow-browed Warbler. Chris had views of the Arctic Warbler at Holme at the end of the day.

Next day started with a walk at Holkham Pines, finding a Dusky Warbler in a flock while it was in the Sycamores behind Washington Hide, and hearing but not seeing so well a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers. Being such a nice October day, we returned to Deepdale, put up a couple of nets and caught five Goldcrest that had made their way up from the coast.

Total:12 (2)

Wren - 2
Robin - 0 (1)
Dunnock - 1
Song Thrush - 3
Blackcap - 3
Goldcrest - 2 (1)
Great Tit - 1

Total: 5(1)

Goldcrest - 5 (1)

Thursday 5 October 2023

Baconsthorpe, Castle Wild Camp - 5th October 2023

 A breezy day, this is just about our only site sheltered enough to permit mist netting in these conditions so we gave it a go. We didn't start with the large catch that we got last time, but managed 30 captures, one being a control Lesser Redpoll. 

ACT4184 Lesser Redpoll

Species:Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)Scheme:GBTRing no:ACT4184
Ringing details
Age: 3 Sex: M Sex meth: P P.ringed: 0 P.alive: 0 Condition: N
Colour marks added: - Metal marks added: N Act1: U Act2: U
Ringing date: 23-Sept-2023 12:00:00
Reg code: - Place code: KEW Site name: KilnseaEast Riding of Yorkshire, UK
County code: GBERY Grid ref: TA4115 Accuracy 0 - Co-ords: 53deg 36min N 0deg 7min E Accuracy 0
Hab1: H3 Hab2: F3
Biometrics: Wing: 73.0 mm. Weight: 11.4 g. Time: 12:00:00hrs
Ringer: Spurn B.o., 9087

We got a few Blackcaps, all carrying fat and clearly preparing to travel with most Chiffchaffs having no fat so may remain on site for some time to come.

3M Blackcap

Total: 26 (4)

Wren - 3
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 1
Blackbird - 0 (2)
Blackcap - 3
Chiffchaff - 3
Goldcrest - 1
Blue Tit - 9 (1)
Chaffinch - 1
Goldfinch - 2
Lesser Redpoll 0 (1)
Treecreeper - 1

Monday 2 October 2023

Deepdale Farm - 2nd October 2023

 A rather quiet morning ended with only 14 captures. Just a few Blackcaps and Chiffchaff to represent the summer migrant species, no autumn arrivals leaving the remainder of the catch made up of birds that would be just as at home in an urban garden.

One of two Chiffchaff on the record sheet

Male Goldcrest

Total: 12 (2)

Wren - 2
Robin - 0 (2)
Dunnock - 3
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldcrest - 2
Blue Tit - 1